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Friday, 14 March 2014
‘The Hat’ by Babette Hughes
This novel opens with the killing of Ben Gold in Cleveland, 1932. We’re then taken back two years, to meet Kate Brady, humiliated by her drunken mother, and unable to escape into her scholarship place at University because the Depression has wiped out her bakery job. Then she meets the charming Ben Gold, who wants to take her out of there...
Kate is a vividly-imagined character. She narrates the novel, and we’re caught up in sympathy with her straight away, willing her to escape even as we – older and wiser than the naive teenager she is - are saying, ‘Don’t do it!’ Her gradual discovery of Ben’s real empire is convincingly done, and her involvement in it chilling. The background of jazz, speak-easies, the Depression, rich and poor, corruption and gang warfare, is convincingly evoked. This is a novel, centring on Kate’s gradual awakening, rather than a gangster story or a thriller, but the atmosphere was well done, and the ending keeps you reading to the last page.
An unusual and compellingly told story of a young woman who marries in haste.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group. Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.